Spotlight: Women’s Oral Health
Celebrating International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate women and their achievements. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness about the unique challenges that women face in society, including oral health.
Gum Disease Can Impact a Woman’s Periodontal Health
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum disease can impact a woman’s periodontal health in a variety of ways throughout her life. Hormone and lifestyle changes at every stage of life can take a toll on women’s oral health.
During puberty, the body undergoes a lot of changes. One of these changes is the increased level of hormones, such as progesterone and possibly estrogen, which causes increased blood circulation to the gums. This may cause an increase in the gum’s sensitivity and lead to a greater reaction to any irritation, including food particles and plaque. During this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red and feel tender.
Menstruation gingivitis is a very common condition that is experienced by many women at some point in their lives. Menstruation gingivitis is caused by a rise in estrogen levels during a woman’s menstrual cycle, which increases the risk of gum tissue inflammation. This condition typically clears up once the period has started.
The symptoms of menstruation gingivitis include bleeding gums, bright red and swollen gums, and sores on the inside of the cheek. If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact your dentist right away to discuss treatment options for this condition.
Pregnancy is a time of hormonal changes and increased blood flow to your gums. That can make women more susceptible to gum disease. In fact, some studies have suggested that pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.
Menopause & Post-Menopause
It might come as no surprise that menopause also affects our mouths! Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may experience changes in their mouths. They may notice dry mouth, pain, and burning sensations in the gum tissue, and altered taste, especially salty, peppery, or sour.
Women also tend to have less bone density than men do in their jaws (which hold our teeth), making them more susceptible to tooth loss due to periodontal disease or other causes like trauma or infection from dental work done on someone else who had poor oral hygiene practices before undergoing surgery themselves (like having wisdom teeth removed).
Women’s Symptoms Can Present Differently
Women may experience symptoms similar to those of men, but they tend to present differently. For example, women are more likely than men to experience dry mouth (xerostomia) because they have lower salivary flow rates than men. Saliva helps to prevent cavities from forming by washing away food particles and preventing bacterial growth on our teeth. It also lubricates our gums so they don’t become inflamed or irritated. When there isn’t enough saliva being produced by our bodies, bacteria may start to grow more quickly on our teeth and gums than they would otherwise—which could lead to bad breath or even tooth decay!
Women can also be affected by hormonal changes that affect oral health. Dramatic changes in hormone levels can affect the mouth’s bacteria balance. Increased production of estrogen makes it easier for plaque-causing bacteria (gingivitis) to grow on your teeth. This is incredibly common during breastfeeding because lactating mothers have higher levels of estrogen than non-lactating ones do.
Put Your Oxygen on First, Schedule Your Oral Health Checkup Today
We know it’s not always easy to put yourself first. You have stuff to do, people to see, and events to attend—and who has time for an oral health checkup? (Ahem, you!)
We hope that you’ve learned something new about women’s oral health and why it’s important to take care of your mouth. Get in touch with the team at Dr. Daniel W. Fridh, DDS to schedule your next cleaning and dental check-up!